Education Technology

Meet the BAMFFs, Best Awesome Mathematical Friends Forever, Who are Spreading Math Love

Posted 12/19/2019 by Ellen Fishpaw (@ellenfishpaw)

David Olszewski, better known as Mr. O on the grounds of Perry High School in Canton, Ohio, has been teaching math for the past five years. Ask any of his students, or fellow teachers, and it’s clear he has quickly become a campus favorite.

“Mr. O is a really fun teacher to have because he always keeps the energy up in the classroom, so you’re never bored, even when you are doing complex math problems,” said Perry High School senior Olivia Lane. “I like that he is very energetic,” said senior Toree Fogle. “We can walk into class and not really want to do anything, and he will find a way to make us want to do math, even though the problems are hard.”

Mr. O returning to his Perry High School classroom to learn he is the final winner of TI’s Spread the Math Love contest.

Olivia and Toree are members of the school’s award-winning math team that Mr. O coaches, along with who he calls his best awesome mathematical friend forever (BAMFF), Ashley Meinke. Ms. Meinke, who teaches calculus at the school, nominated Mr. O for the Texas Instruments (TI) Spread the Math Love contest. The contest honors people who are helping spread a love of math.

Ashley Meinke nominated her best awesome mathematical friend forever, David Olszewski, to win the Spread the Math Love contest from Texas Instruments.

Watch a video of the surprise here: LINK

In her submission, Ms. Meinke wrote: “David has a drive, creativity and passion like no one else I have ever seen. His mind is bursting with ideas, and some days I can hardly keep up.” The two have been teaching calculus together for the past four years and coach the math team together. They refer to one another as BAMFFs, best awesome mathematical friends forever.

Ms. Meinke teaches AP Calculus AB, and Mr. O teaches AP Calculus BC. They have the chance to collaborate often, practice vertical alignment and disagree on notation.

“We need more educators like him — people willing to fight for change, love math with all their heart, and stand by education as their career for a lifetime,” said Ms. Meinke. With the help of TI, she arranged for students at the school to surprise Mr. O with the news that he won the contest.

While Mr. O went out to lunch with one of the school’s administrators, Ms. Meinke and many of the calculus students gathered to surprise Mr. O in his classroom. “When I walked in, I was just like, ‘Oh my gosh.’ I got a little misty-eyed at first, the level of stunned that I was feeling was more than I probably ever felt at any point in my life,” said Mr. O. He was clearly touched by all of the attention and excitement from his students and school staff. “It was genuinely a very important and meaningful experience that I think I will probably remember for the rest of my life.”

The BAMFFs were all smiles as Ms. Meinke handed Mr. O his check for $1,500 to support the school’s award-winning math team.

For his prize, TI is donating $1,500 to help with expenses for the math team. “That’s huge. At most we have about $100 in our account at any given time, and we’ve been spending a lot of our own money over the years, so this is going to be awesome,” said Ms. Meinke.

Ms. Meinke and Mr. O are looking forward to using the money to inspire their students and others to continue to love math and teach math. “I would just say to anyone who is thinking about a career in teaching math, I think it’s a very rewarding and meaningful profession,” said Mr. O.

About the author: Ellen Fishpaw is the Media Relations and Communications Manager for Texas Instruments Education Technology. Before joining TI five years ago, Ellen was a broadcast journalist for 13 years, working at television stations across the country, from North Carolina to New Mexico. She most recently worked for NBC 5 in Dallas as a crime reporter before hanging up the microphone for a TI-84 Plus CE. Follow her on Twitter @ellenfishpaw.